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Woodbury wrestling: Forest Lake escapes with win over Royals

Woodbury had a chance to knock off perennial power Forest Lake for the first time since head coach Justin Smith took over five years ago, but the Rangers pulled out victories in the last two weight classes to leave the Royals waiting for another opportunity.

Forest Lake trailed by five heading into the final two matches but got falls from Jeremy McLaughlin at 220 pounds and Beau Phinney at 285 to grab a 35-28 victory Thursday in Forest Lake.

"Going into the match we liked the matchup we had," Smith said. "There were some opportunities that we felt slipped through."

Both teams won seven matches, but the Rangers picked up four falls and a technical fall. Woodbury's Howard Jones recorded the team's lone fall at 170 pounds while Austin Braun, John McNiff, Ben Donnelly and Matt Delaney picked up major decision victories.

The Royals had a chance to win with Anthony Doreo at 220. Doreo led 4-2 at the end of the first period, but got caught trying to escape from the down position in the second period and McLaughlin locked him up for a fall.

Second-ranked Justin Herold-Plakut lost a tough match 8-3 at 160 pounds to third-ranked Austin Boniface. Herold-Plakut battled through illness and an asthma flare-up in the match but Boniface broke a 3-3 tie after Herold-Plakut got caught trying a lateral drop.

Smith said the team wasn't satisfied with just having a close match with Forest Lake any longer as it continues to try to make strides as a program.

"As a coaching staff we have to make sure they're not satisfied being close," Smith said. "They're not satisfied with being close. They have to take it to the next level now."

Ty Johnson lost a 3-2 match at 120 pounds in addition to Herold-Plakut's loss, but Woodbury got big wins from others when it needed them.

Delaney delivered a 16-4 major decision victory at 138 pounds against Sam Finch and Kevin Beseman won 16-13 at 145 pounds. McNiff won by major decision at 195 pounds and Pavel Swensen came through with a 6-2 victory at 182 pounds to help rally the Royals and build a 28-23 lead.

"It's a credit to our guys," Smith said. "We weren't going to give up."

Woodbury will get another opportunity to signal a step forward Thursday when it faces Stillwater and Tartan. Stillwater knocked the Royals out of the Section 4AAA tournament last season with a 46-20 victory.